By Kenneth Jukpor
The ripple effect of the congestion on Tin Can Island Port access road has led to delays in vessel turnaround time with over 40 vessels currently waiting to discharge cargoes at the port.
Although the Federal Government is working assiduously to fix the port access roads, there is a dire need to provide alternative routes for cargo evacuation as port activities at Tin Can Island Port have almost collapsed.
During a routine visit of terminals yesterday, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello assured that the government would explore short term plans to facilitate evacuation of cargoes from Tin Can Port.
Responding to the complaints of the NSC boss on the limitations of Ports and Cargo Handling Services (PCHS), the Managing Director of PCHS, Mr. John Jenkins blamed the deplorable state of the ports access roads on the slow process of cargo evacuation at the terminal, adding that there is a long waiting time for ships at Tin Can Island Port.
Speaking on the effects of the inaccessible port roads, Jenkins said; “There are over 40 vessels at anchorage at the Tin Can Island Port. At Port & Cargo, we could only bring seven alongside now. Last month, we kept one of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) vessels there for four days because they could not discharge and this month, we have kept vessels for more than two days already because we don’t know where to put the containers.”
“I have worked in this port industry all my life; I have never seen roads like this. We could form a palliative solution. We are not happy; people are losing their means of livelihood everyday because of the poor condition of the road.”
Meanwhile, the port economic regulator, NSC lamented Port & Cargo terminal was rated the lowest in automation with 25 percent while other terminals had attained 60 percent and above.
Bello also noted that the company has been slow in its response to complaints by its customers as well as emails from the regulator.
The NSC boss said; “Government is trying as much as possible to fix the roads, which is about 75 percent completed. We know the roads are bad, but we will not take that as an excuse for Nigerians to be exploited. We know that P&CHS has outlets where containers are stemmed to, to avoid port congestion. However, we expect this to be done at zero cost to the shippers. We have heard instances where P&CHS bills shippers for stemming cargoes to bonded terminals. This is unacceptable. It is against the international contract of carriage and affreightment.”
“Another issue we have with Ports and Cargo is delays associated with the transfer and loading of barges despite the fact that these barges belong to P&CHS. At times, delays span around four months before barges are loaded and transferred. We won’t accept this anymore. The port is a transit point, not a warehouse.”